Nepotism is defined as the act of employees favoring relatives regardless of their qualifications or performance. An example of this kind of bias is when relatives are hired or promoted primarily because they happen to be relatives of the employer. The other candidates who may be better suited to the reward, promotion or even hiring are discredited. (employeeissues. com , 2008) This phenomenon is pretty much common especially in the private sectors and NGOs mostly because as such there is no universal law against nepotism at the federal level that condemns it in most states.
In some states the law has been passed but it is only applicable to the public sector organizations. Nepotism can have dire consequences and it is most certainly unfair on a lot of individuals. Race or gender discrimination can come into play; for instance an employer might hire relatives of a specific race to the exclusion of others or the opposite gender. It also includes illegal termination of certain employees to open job opportunities for relatives.
For instance an employer might fire a certain employee on the basis that he or she does not share the same religious background as their boss in which case the boss will hire a relative who shares the same belief system. (employeeissues. com, 2008) Although nepotism means favoring relatives the concept has included helping out friends or simply showing favoritism to certain employees as opposed to others. It is common in family run businesses and it has a practical reason for being so. For one family businesses are handed down generation to generation whilst their sole success relies on the closeness and bonding of the family.
Having said that these family businesses are generally aware of the fact that if they hire personnel outside of the family they will have to strive harder to prove that no preferential treatment is being given to relatives and all employees have equal opportunities. Nepotism does not have just downsides it can prove to be fruitful at times. For instance usually relatives are more motivated to increase their productivity in order to reach the overall objectives of the company. They are more than willing to exert more time and efforts for the sake of their loyalty and integrity.
It is their one opportunity to prove that they have and can make it on merit. Moreover hiring relatives can increases continuity and create a stable environment conducive to growth and progression of the business. Furthermore there is an element of loyalty and trust which gives rise to making sacrifices for the success of the business even at personal cost. (Safe workers. co. uk , 2000) On the downside family members colluding together in a business can have some serious repercussions. It could give rise to increasing family conflicts and feuds interfering in the routine business activities.
Husband and wife teams in a business are often not successful because family issues become part of the business and the rest of the workforce is demoralized. Moreover many times the competence and qualification is not considered when hiring an employee for a specific job task because the seat is only vacant for a relative regardless of his or her compatibility. In some cases they may use their position in the organization to carry out unethical tasks that are demeaning and downright dirty but are carried out to fulfill their own interests as opposed to the interest of the business organization as a whole.
. (Safe workers. co. uk, 2000) In this day and age, it has become pretty common to get employed through contacts. In fact a big social network is fundamental for the very purpose. Many people get through the hurdles of getting employed because of their contacts. Although there might not be anything wrong with that it is absolutely imperative that the employee after getting employed relies on merit rather than favoritism to go up the levels of hierarchy.
This will prove to his or her co workers that he or she is capable of doing a good job without resorting to help that is dishonest and unjustified. At some point in time every business owner will ask him or herself whether hiring relatives is beneficial or harmful to a business. To that end they must evaluate the benefits accrued and the negative repercussions as well in order to make an informed decision. As discussed earlier some of the obvious advantages is the fact that customer relations are improved and a feeling of trust is developed.
The shortfall lies in the possible managerial incompetence. Also there is a lack of exposure to other businesses which could result in stagnation and little or no innovation. Communication breakdown can also pose a threat when hiring is restricted to the act of nepotism. Furthermore it is significant to take into account the possibility of group think. This means that the top notch family members force the other relatives to comply whilst stifli8ng individual thought processes. It is advisable that the top management be consulted when relatives are being hired.
According to statistics 87% of all business owners hire family members as the next president. If this route is to be taken it must be assured that the successor is both competent and emotionally ready to take the challenge of undertaking the business responsibilities. Successor competency is of utmost importance because the survival of the business depends on their managerial skills and competency. Moreover family successors must have a sense of confidence and ability to exercise authority which obviously pertains to self actualization and self esteem.
While most people assume that family members are compensated to a lesser degree fact remains that they are actually undercompensated. However most of them are compensated by owing stocks or shares in the company. It is therefore imperative to work out a system of compensation for employees having family ties to be rewarded in accordance to their performance and place in the organizational structure of the business. Setting criteria even for family members with future prospects in the business is recommendable owing to the competitive nature of the market and the need to always be ready for change.
(Fowler, 2003) Larger firms face more problems when it comes to hiring family members as opposed to small businesses. The reason accounted for this is that there hiring is subject to more question and controversy due to its size. Nonetheless research into nepotism has brought into light a number of issues for the researcher. The first problem faced is fairly evident. There are definitional problems with it as well. In the US literature for instance this specific type of hiring is called nepotism. Essentially the word nepotism has several meanings.
“The first; it is the hiring of the relative of the owner of the business namely family nepotism, second; it is the hiring of the spouse of an existing employee also referred to as paired employees, third; it is the political sense that is giving ones relative a political favor also known as political nepotism and organizational nepotism which is the hiring of an employee other than that of the owner of the business. This last type is the most common kind and has been subject to much research”. (Williams , n. d. ) These numerous definitions can be portrayed in either the negative or positive light.
It all depends on the usage of the term. For instance the word nepotism in the negative relates to the hiring of the relative of the owner of the business. A number of headlines depict cases where nepotism is almost always necessarily seen as a negative. Examples of such headlines are ‘hiring in laws’, ‘introducing junior’ etc. it is safe to say that nepotism applies pressure on human resource managers reason being the insecurity it gives rise to as a result of most employees feeling intimidated by those who have relatives in the same organization with a certain level of influence.
This brings in problems of enforcement, morale and promotions. “On the optimistic side, one family business – Thomas Publishing Co. , the New York City Company well-known for the Thomas Register of American manufacturers and other business publications – has been renowned as a family firm that officially practices nepotism. in an article about the firm it was cited that a shorter learning period, lesser employee risk, enhanced performance, the capacity to fill employee spots at peak times, and decreased labor turnover were the benefits of this nepotistic behavior”.
(Williams , n. d. ) Organizationally nepotism can have some serious repercussions on the organization but despite this effect it has never been empirically measured. In a research conducted a direct relationship between nepotism and employee satisfaction was developed. a correlation was made between nepotism and the level of productivity. In the data collected form a family owned bank in Latin America it was found that the benefits accrued from hiring relatives was clearly outweighing the costs. (Williams , n. d. )
It’s indeed very frustrating to know that nepotism is so widespread and blatant favoritism is directed towards relatives without giving heed to other factors involved. Many managers lack in the ethics department and because they lack in this domain they are more likely to endanger their own company. It is very unprofessional to give leverage to employees who just happen to be relatives of the owner. More often than not these very employees are exempted from following protocol while the rest of the workforce is penalized if they fail to do so.
It is no wonder that a feeling of resentment and animosity develops in the organization and such an environment can only give rise to low productivity. Some might believe that nepotism is a natural phenomenon and hard to avoid in any case it is very hard to eradicate. Employees simply have to bear it and move on. It’s the part and parcel of working for most organizations especially in the government sectors where the practice is most common. (Nepotism in the work place, 2007) More often than not law firms involve family affairs where successive generations carry on the firm’s name.
an example is the Winnipeg firm, Tupper & Adams, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in fall of 2007 The firm was established in 1882 by Hugh John Macdonald (the son of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada) and Stewart Tupper (the eldest son of Dr. Charles Tupper, premier of Nova Scotia, and later prime minister of Canada). In following years the firm was joined by Stewart Tupper’s youngest brother, William Johnston Tupper. This is as far as its historical background goes. A Tupper has been working in the firm since the time it was established in 1882 till the death of Stewart Tupper in 1960.
Some law firms are trying to break the traditions of nepotism BLG’s Toronto office is a case in point. All its job postings have the following line written “Please note that relatives of current employees are not eligible for consideration. ” This policy brings forth rather uneasy questions into view especially when the interviewer has to say no the close relative of a senior employees. This policy however is a bit too rigid owing to the fact that some real potential players are not even considered even though they are show stoppers.
Still, there are many reasons not to employ relatives as stated by Cheryl O’Donnell, chief administrative officer at BLG Toronto office. For one other employee cannot resort to the excuse that there are favoritism and special privileges being thrown around to employees with family relations. She has been quoted to have said: “It is one step toward proving we hire candidates for their qualifications and not just who they know,” says O’Donnell who is also concerned about the discomfort that recruiting personnel would be exposed to should they have to deal with the relative of a current BLG employee.
O’Donnell added that the firms which permit relations of employees to apply for jobs almost certainly have inculcated policies to avoid nepotism and hire firmly on the basis of worth. But as far as her policy is concerned, the no-relative rule at BLG has done away with wasting time with such a futile challenge. (Cramp, 2007) However, there are a few issues that must be well thought-out when developing hiring policies to forbid nepotism. a human rights lawyer Catherine Peters with Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Stories LLP states that “There are two areas: the possibility of human rights issues and general employment law issues.
They’re closely related,” she concludes. “There will be differences in the law from province to province as well. In Ontario, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, it is not discrimination to refuse to hire a spouse, child or parent. ” (Cramp, 2007) Many companies are not willing to admit that they are excessively indulgent on nepotism. They might portray that they are advocates of equal opportunities and merit based promotions but behind the scenes little happens to fulfill this criteria.
Fact of the matter is that good employees often get overlooked when promotions are being decided while the relatives and friends quickly move up the ladder with much ease and little input on their part. We hear examples of unjust promotions from our daily lives and it should not really come to us as a surprise. Almost every American can account for someone they know who was unable to get a raise or promotion because the boss’s friend or relative was naturally the first choice.
We have all heard stories about the boss’s son getting special privileges such as getting to pick his days off, the number of hours he works so on and so forth. Everyone else of course has to go by the schedule. Although some companies such as the afore mentioned law firm have taken up policies such as not hiring relatives at all but fact remains that they cannot come up with a complete solution to eradicate the ailments of nepotism and other unfair practices. It’s a very sorry fact that in the professional work environment it’s not what you know but who you know.
Everything revolves around contacts and PR and employees who have none of these find it very hard to get employed. (Zagata, 2007) Even when we look at the worldwide phenomenon of leadership in many countries we find that a lot of them are still ridden by dynasticism instead of meritocracy. Countries like Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Jordon, morocco, Philippines are led by the children of the former heads of state. The same can be said about the United States of America whose former president George Bush was not only the son of a president but also the grandson of a senator and brother of a governor.
America has conveniently blinded itself to the fact of nepotism. Nepotism has been part of human history and has formed the basic organizing principals in politics. In the early 20th century the ruling aristocracy of Mongolia was still ruled by the descendants of Genghis Khan despite the fact that he had been dead since more than 700 years. (Sailer, 2003) Even in India the national congress chose as their leader Sonia Gandhi the widow, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter-in-law of prime ministers in the 1999 elections.
Even though she lost and came in second place it pays homage to the fact that so much confidence was placed in the dynasty. If it had not been for the Gandhi name Sonia would not have stood a chance considering she was a roman catholic Italian who did not speak a single word of Hindi. “Dynasticism is not just restricted to Asia. In the united states for example influential men’s sons and, progressively more, their wives and daughters, are following political leadership with a promptness evocative of the feudal days of old Europe.
For example in 2002, Senator Frank Murkowski was chosen governor of Alaska and without delay named his daughter Lisa to take over his seat in the U. S. Senate, stating that he wanted his successor to share his vision and values for the future of the state”. Americans don’t seem to mind nepotism in this regard and are actually proud of the fact that the brilliance one displayed by their rulers is being expected from their offspring or relatives. (Sailer, 2003) However, it must be known that it is not necessary for a senator’s child to have the same potential or tendencies as the senator himself.
After all this is not a play of eugenics. Talents and capabilities differ for every individual. “Dynasties are classically founded by outstanding men, hut the inherited uncertainty innate in sexual reproduction means their children are not likely to equal completely their capabilities. The children of highly intelligent couples, for instance, often end up with IQ levels approximately halfway between the average of their parents and those of the general population”. (Sailer, 2003) Pakistan is another example of a country that is absolutely trapped in the arena of nepotism.
The late head of the current ruling party the PPP Benazir Bhutto named her son as the successor to the parties leadership refuting indirectly all the claims that she had made supporting democracy. However, the fact that she named her son Bilawal Bhutto a 19 year old student at Oxford University as her sole successor means that she too wanted the power to remain amidst her own bloodline. If her son really wants to fulfill the legacy of acquiring democracy in Pakistan he should consider not taking the reins of leadership by right of inheritance and bloodline but win it through something his mother believed in restoring in Pakistan ‘democracy’.
He should hold elections and let people decide who they want their next leader to be instead of nepotism being the deciding factor. He on the other hand fortified his selection as chairman on the basis that the party felt it imperative to keep a bond with his mother “through the bloodline. ” He reiterated that his place was not only unanimously legitimate by the party’s central committee but also by the guide set after the death sentence of his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. (Chayas, 2008) The choice to daub her son as her heir ruined her standing in the West, where she was distinguished for her dazzling vivacity and indisputable bravery.
It constrains the forces still stressed to set up open, civilian rule in Pakistan, and gives arguments to those in the region who believe that the very word “democracy” is just a skeptical farce. (Chayas 2008) A question frequently asked is how much nepotism is good nepotism. Defining rules or policies for family business participation is imperative to the functioning of the business because if family and work are amalgamated interests other than that of the objective of the firm come into play and subsequently the overall performance suffers.
It is not the strictness of the rules that are applied to hamper the negative effects of nepotism but how effectively they are communicated to the prospective employee before he or she joins the organization. Three criteria must be looked into when seeking to hire relatives and these will definitely offset the negative effects of nepotism. First the prospective employees should have the appropriate education qualification for the job being sought. Second he or she must have a minimum of five years work experience and third they must enter the job whilst giving precedence to pay and performance expectations.
Outside experience is appreciated because it brings in a blend of new ideas and paves way to creativity. However, most family businesses have their own set criterion which differs from others; according to their needs and the nature of the business. Generally speaking, the above mentioned criteria can be applied to most family businesses. (Aronoff, 1993) It is the conviction behind the rules set by any organization that is of utmost importance which is why when family members are being hired they need to be told the significance of each and every rule made.
They must be informed of why the rules are good for the business, why they are good for the family members involved etc. discussing these policies with family members will help them understand, obey and value these policies. (Aronoff, 1993) Favoritism in some ways can be thought of as unfairness, but despite that most employers refute all claims to its existence. Giving unjustified favors to one employee over others, results in low levels of morale, increased turnover, and stagnation in career advancement.
It gives workers the notion that it doesn’t matter how one performs on the job, but the extent of favors that a superior can bestow on them. And it is precisely this favoritism that decides perks and promotions one is expected to receive. Due to these high levels of favoritism, employees develop a what can be called as a “why bother” approach. If favoritism is being directed towards even just one person or one particular group the rest of the workforce will see it as a scenario that directs the entire human resource management team.
A very common example where favors are generated through unfair practices is when a supervisor and a subordinate are dating; this case particularly raises controversial issues in an organization. It is only natural for the shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to expect organizations to make decisions depending on meritocracy rather than relationships. (Ramsay, 2005) The question that is usually put forward is how can an organization keep these relationships under control? Unfortunately, there is no set answer to this question.
The issues of Family ties, romances and friendships have been troubling for organizations throughout the world, and different countries perceive them differently. In many regions of the world such as Asia, personal links are considered in a positive framework to guarantee conviction in an organization, and are acknowledged particularly when a father passes his business to his son. In some specific cultures businesses are a family matter where everyone and anyone in the family regardless of their qualification find a place in the top notch levels primarily due to the trust factor.
But for a party that weighs the pros and cons of everything such as Germany this might be a little bewildering because nepotism is not at all customary in their businesses. Another reason for this might be that they find it hard to trust the opposite party because they feel that they are dealing with people who have no credibility whatsoever owing to the fact that they have occupy positions not in accordance to their abilities but relative to their relationships. (Workplace nepotism, n. d. )
It is very natural for a supervisor or manager to be dependent on a specific employee because he or she trusts and respects that specific employee more than let’s say another employee in the same position. Affinities and likeness develops everywhere perhaps because of past experiences, like interests, aims or simply put social backgrounds and at times just the prolonged existence of their flourishing relationship. Rightfully each and every employee should work regardless of their position in the organization to create an environment conducive to ethical relations where individual employees are treated with respect and equality.
Assurance of this will not leave any room for favoritism. Favoritism works its way into the workplace demolishing relationships and spreading distrust. Employees should make themselves aware of its existence and always be in a position to stifle it. (Workplace nepotism, n. d. ) Nowadays, nepotism is considered a bad deal in most organizations but there is one airline that claims it to be beneficial. A spokesman from southwest airline was stated to have said that they support nepotism outright.
Naturally if an organization satisfies its personnel and keeps their needs in mind they will refer their company to their relatives. There is no harm in doing so because they will only refer people who they think are competent to work in that environment. Having said that if the company itself has a good screening process than they will not allow candidates to go on to the next level if they feel that they are not capable of performing to the level that is required. (Ellis, 2008)
Some employers prefer hiring people that they know at a personal level because they feel that the candidness will make it easier for them to convey their message in an effective manner. Moreover they feel that they will work harder because high expectations are kept from them from day one. Employers generally know when they are employing someone on reference what to expect of them. If they feel that the candidate is not up to mark they usually have the audacity to say it to their face in a very direct manner regardless of the referencing employee. (Ellis, 2008)
In the end, it does not really matter whether it is ethical for an employer to hire a relative or a friend or even an acquaintance as long as the hired person is hired solely for what he or she can give to the organization in terms of practical use. Confidence can be shown to employees but at the same time orders should be fulfilled by them so as to not give them the impression that they can get away with doing a sloppy job. (Ellis, 2008) References Beverley Cramp 2007, The Lawyers Weekly, ‘all in the family: a national law firm grapples with nepotism’, retrieved 25th February 2009 from:
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